Fred Collins, a veteran refrigeration technician shares his tips on Success in the Skilled Trades.

Fred Collins, a veteran refrigeration technician shares his tips on Success in the Skilled Trades.

Video of this Episode

On the Road?
Listen to AUDIO ONLY
version of the Podcast

Follow the Process Chiller Pro podcast on these platforms.

Listening on your phone or mobile device? These great podcast platforms may require apps to be installed to access the podcast on your mobile devices. 

Get an email alert when new episodes are posted.

Show notes

Welcome to the Skilled Trades rescue podcast. And today, I have an amazing guest on we’ve been connecting off and on over LinkedIn. In other applications. I’ve got Fred Collins on the line. He’s a long term technician, he’s been out in the field for a long time in this podcast series we are talking about or talking with real people working in skilled trades. And we want to get their stories out there because this type of thing just does not get covered. And we want to let people know that there’s an amazing world in skilled trades out there, if you’re interested in pursuing it, and we’re going to try to give you some inside. Scoops today. So Fred, how you doing, man? Doing good. Awesome. So gosh, I was looking at your profile. I’ve looked at it before on LinkedIn. And, man, you’ve been around a long time, huh?

Yeah, I’ve been in the business I guess about 39 years.

That’s in your in the Greater New Orleans area.

Correct. Okay,

so all tool how many years? You got a nice, though I’m on this up over? Gosh, you’re going probably on your

40th year now. Right? Yeah, about 39 years? Yeah. Wow.

Okay. Well, I have a feeling that the audience out there, both technicians that are practicing now and ones that are perhaps interested in getting into skilled trades would love to hear from you. So Fred, just give the audience sort of a synopsis on your career and where you started and how you got to where you are today in skilled trades?

Well, I went to, to a vocational school while I was in high school. And then out of out of the vocational school, I went into residential and light commercial, and then moved into heavy commercial and industrial as the years went by. Okay,

so what were you working with Sinco. Now tell, tell us about what you’re doing there.

It’s mainly ammonia refrigeration, but we do quite a bit of how the carbon work also, all industrial work. Its industrial plants, food processing, and cold storage equipment. Okay,

so you’re a service contractor. So you’re, or you work for a service contractor. So you have a series of clients that they need refrigeration work done, and you go out and take care of them, correct?

That is correct. Now we do manufacture our own equipment, you know, we use other brand name, you know, frick or whatever, you know, equipment that will put a package together using other people’s equipment. Okay.

And then so you’re doing the warranty work, and you’re going out there and you service the customer through the warranty, and then you’re probably doing if you can you do in maintenance contracts on the stuff you’re selling?

That is correct. Okay.

So tell me about, you know, what’s what’s a day in the life for Fred? Like, so you’re, you’re a supervisor, is that correct at Simcoe? So, what exactly do you do?

Well, I’m a working supervisor, so I’m still on my tools. So just like today, I went and added vibration accelerometers to a couple of Frick packages and activated that stuff in the HD panel. The beginning part of the week, I was at a chicken plant replacing a compressor. A nice ask for a compressor with a 500 horse motor. So we we do some nice house work.

Yeah, sir. Sounds like it. So what what are the some of the challenges that you’re running into nowadays in the you know, and refrigeration in particular, has been one of the skilled trades like, what are some of the challenges that you’re seeing evolve now that you’ve been in it for a while? What’s What’s the latest challenge going on in the skilled trade world in your opinion?

I believe well, right. As of right now, it’s acquiring parts and pieces. I mean, I think that’s everybody’s headache right now. But we do There is a manpower shortage, you know, so I mean, it’s, it’s I guess it’s good for the people that are all working in the field, you know, there’s plenty, there’s no problem getting your time in. But there is a definitely a labor shortage. But I believe that the challenges for the work and technician are less now than there used to be. Now with the advent of smartphones and computers, it’s a lot less challenging than it used to be.

Yeah, that’s right. Because a lot of the generation now probably, they don’t have a concept of how was if you wanted to get an operating manual on a piece of equipment or service maintenance checklist for a piece of equipment, you know, we would have to call the manufacturer and back in the old days, they have to mail it to you and then we went through the fax machine craze and the technicians nowadays they have the literally the whole world on the in their back pocket.

And that is correct. It makes it much easier. I’ve spent many days waiting by fax machine.

Yeah, no kidding. And that thermal paper you put up in the window that turns black after you leave it up there for a while.

Yeah, it’s only good for a few days.

That’s right. That’s right. Yeah, so how is how’s things going in New Orleans? So obviously supply chain issues are a problem is are things coming back now like what are your customers do and are they are they willing to spend money now on on refrigeration equipment? What’s what’s going on in the yard things growing in our service contractors, assuming that they could find the labor they’re doing pretty well or what?

I believe they’re doing well and customers or are when things become available, they mine up all they can so they really make matters worse, you know, for other people, but when when parts and pieces if there’s a long lead time they order extra they don’t you know, they don’t want it more than what they need.

Right. So how big is your shop? How many technicians do you have running it Simcoe?

Well, we we have one main office in the US we have some satellite offices, but I believe we up to close to 70 technicians. Okay, that’s for the whole us. Okay.

And you’re doing mostly commercial industrial that right?

It’s all industrial. Yes. Okay.

Now, are you guys hiring? It sounds like you probably are. If you can find technicians, are you? Are you hiring guys up as quick as you can get them?

In different parts of the country? Yes, we? There’s three of us that work in Louisiana. So they they’re not looking for anybody in Louisiana, but in other parts of the country. They are always hiring. Yes.

Yeah. And what’s your do you guys only hire people with experience? Or do you? Do you guys look for new blood and bring them up? What’s your what is tsimko like to do on that front?

That mostly somebody would experience and then it may not have ammonia experience but somebody because we all scattered about? It’s hard to have a good mentor locally. Right? They do. They do? They have hired some apprentices, but they they steer toward experience people. Okay.

Okay. Now when you say experienced people. So how many years of experience do you guys require to seriously consider a candidate for your commercial industrial work? Hey, guys, quick announcement. If you have not stopped into our website, at skill trade rescue.com. Please do that on the homepage. Here, you will see that we have the Join the movement email list. If you haven’t signed up, please consider doing that. We have some amazing guests lined up for the podcast, I’m going to be getting the stories out of successful technicians and business owners in skilled trades. These are not just HVAC people there’s going to people be from across the skilled trade spectrum. And my hope is that I’m going to be able to draw out of these people the things that have worked in their careers amazingly well. And the things that if they had a chance to talk to their younger self, what they would tell them not to do. So I want to share all that stuff with you. And if you sign up you’re going to be the first to know when we drop those new podcast episodes. Also coming soon we have the BDS T workshop. It’s a five day automated email Workshop. However, you’re going to give content to us through that workshop, you’re going to get one on one feedback from our instructors, instructors, and we’re looking to better your career. I’ve been teaching the BST process for many, many years, about two decades one on one, and I’m going to be trying to do that, to the masses through this workshop. It’s totally free. All you got to do sign up. As soon as you do that, you’ll get alerts on your email, as soon as these new podcasts come in, as well as the BSD workshop. So be check it out. I will put a link to the website on the show notes for this episode today. So check it out.

I really like it. It really depends. But you know, if they got some good, regular, you know, commercial refrigeration experience, you know, five or seven years that that would be a good number. Okay. Okay.

And do the technicians that end up working for you? I know you’ve been there a long time. Do you guys have pretty good retention? As far as you know, technician staying with your firm?

The ones who I guess it’s a mixed bag, we do have a little bit of turnover in different parts of the country in in, and I don’t know what the problem is. And other parts, you know, around the South, we everybody seems to have been there a while. But they do have a turnover in other parts of the country. Yeah. And I believe it’s because there’s just, you know, if I had to put my finger on it, it’s other companies stealing people away? Yeah,

that’s, yeah, they’re I don’t know how it is out there. But in the Northwest out here. pretty regularly, if they can get a technician that’s got any experience, I’m seeing these ads, you know, on these employment sites, their companies are offering, you know, four or five $6,000 signing bonuses. Just just to just to pick off some good technicians from some of the competitors.

Yes, I’ve had a few of those calls myself. Vet. Yeah. Well, cool.

So what what are some of the talking to the audience out there? Now? What are some of the characteristics and the habits you think, Fred, that can make somebody like, like, what are the characteristics of a successful Refrigeration Technician these days, what are some of the top three things that, you know, that habits that these new technicians coming up, if they have those habits, they’ll they’ll move up quickly,

I believe the number one thing is read up on the equipment that you’re going to be working on, you know, it’s so easy to get to download stuff nowadays, but read the manuals and, and get familiar with it, you’re not gonna know, learn at all. But when something happens, you’re going to remember, Oh, I just read something about that. And you can go back and look at, I believe, you know, reading up on something ahead of time, and then taking notes. I keep a journal, a calendar every year, and I write down a brief description of what I’ve done that day and where I’ve done it, and, and it’s a good reference for years to come when when you come across something, you can go back, you might not have all the details, but it’ll jog your memory of what happened. So I really encourage people to do that. Anything else? That’s probably about it. And that’s two good things.

Okay. Now, one of the things that I’ve been talking about a lot, Fred, is the challenges that you I mean, you touched on this a few minutes ago, you know, the challenges that these contractors employers are having, because of the labor shortage right now. So what are the what are some of the things you have any ideas on how we can encourage the next generation that’s going to be replacing us old guys eventually? What do you think? I mean, do you have any ideas on on you know, how we can solve this problem or something, you know, everybody could do

is really the schools definitely no later than high schools. Somehow we got to get to the, to these kids, because they don’t know what we do. They they don’t realize, you know, we refrigerate everything, you know, they just don’t understand it. And they don’t realize the the career that they could have. Right. Right. When I, when I was in high school, like I was able to go to trade school half a day in high school half a day. So that’s something that it would be nice for those type of programs to come back. Yeah.

That’s for sure. That’s how I ended up in refrigeration was was through a high school trade shop class. You know, and it’s just, it’s missing, you know, that it’s sort of that old thing is kind of disappeared. And I think it needs to make a comeback. But I agree with you getting into the high schools and talking to the young folks and telling them that, you know, college is not the only option for you,

right? That’s right.

So what kind of pay out there are you looking at? So let’s say, you know, tsimko, finds a guy that’s got, you know, four or five years experience. And the you know, he’s this guy shows up right place right time you need it, you know, you need a technician out there. What, just in general terms, what would you guys start that technician out as far as an hourly wage roughly?

Well, I really don’t have no input or, you know, clue as to the, you know, because we just so spread out, but, you know, in the Greater New Orleans area, everything is based off union scale, even though we’re not we are non union outfit, but you know, are the other things and scale is $30, around the $30 an hour range, but most companies pay well over that around.

Okay, so just give me a better range. So what’s realistic for a good technician out there?

I believe a good range is the 40 to $45 an hour, right? Okay.

Yeah, yeah. And then what does that? Does that include the benefits or the benefits would be on top of that?

That’s yeah, plus your benefits plus your

benefits. Okay. So you’re probably talking to a complete package all in for the employer, you’re probably 50 maybe close to 60 bucks an hour. By the time he figured out all the medical and dental and all the retirement and all that stuff.

Oh, yeah, easing, you know, somebody else, you know, of course, the bigger the corporation, the more the, the burden rate would be for technician, you know, including truck and everything. You know, they knockin on $70

Yeah, that’s amazing. Hey, guys, I have an exciting announcement, we just recently made some updates to our three most popular online courses at process Tiller academy.com If you’re a technician, that’s looking to improve your skills a little bit, maybe get some specialized training to give more value to your customers and your employer. Or if you are an employer or a contractor that is looking to augment your existing in house training with online training that can be accessible from any device, this is a really great opportunity. Just go to process Chillar academy.com Just scroll down on the homepage and you will see the course area. If you go into the course page, you will see that we have currently for limited time, we have a promo code of chiller Pro that will save you 25% on any one of these courses. I hope you check it out. And I’m looking forward to seeing you in class. So Fred, tell me about you know, like a memorable career success that that you know, maybe a project or something that you did a major problem solving and it just made you feel good a big career success that you can remember you got to have a ton of them out there. This is like campfire time. So tell the audience is a story that you know that that you

want to share? Well, I spent many days working for one of the manufacturers and one of one of the funny stories I like to always tell is one of the major casinos on the Mississippi Gulf Coast was ready to open. Well you know they was trying to dry out she crock and, you know, they sent me out there to start up the chillers they had eight chillers on the roof. And I had to break it to them that the chillers was chilled water was piped in back there don’t have problems, so there wasn’t going to be starting them. So you know, it’s, it’s not funny at the time, but it’s kind of funny after the fact that when you have to put a big job like that on hold. I shouldn’t say funny. I shouldn’t say funny, but it’s one of those you pay me now pay me later type things. Right. So what

did they do? Did they have to flip the children around or something you can’t flip all up? They have to repipe it or what they end up doing to solve that one?

Oh, yeah, they cut all the pipe out and repiping. And it was pretty to the way that it was nice and fruity. But after the fact that you will look like a mess.

Man. Got the other ones? What? You got any other good ones?

Oh, let’s say we we did a lot of good stuff after Hurricane Katrina down in New Orleans area, you know, drying out chillers and getting them back up and running. And that was good. You know, to really help the community get stuff back up and running. Yeah,

I remember. We just shipped a couple little process chillers because I used to manufacture under 100 tons little little package chillers. And I sold this brewery in New Orleans, a couple of little five ton packaged chillers that they were using for their brewery. And when Katrina came in, there was a couple of touchdown tornadoes that came in with that a lot of people don’t they don’t cover that. But

anyway, we shipped

them maybe three months later, you know, the after they got them installed. The the hurricane hit, and probably I don’t know, three or four months after the hurricane after all the dust settle. We got a call from the brewer. And he said it’s a weirdest thing. He said the the two chillers are about 20 feet apart sitting on the pad. And one of them, you know, not much happened to it. I mean, it was pretty much

untouched.

I mean, it had a little bit of wind damage. But you know, they were able to get a technician out there and fire it up and they can at least make beer. And I said okay, well what happened to the other one? He says, Well, there was a big long pause. He said, Yeah, we didn’t know really where it was for quite a while. But about a month later, we got a call from this guy who’s about to box over. And the tornado picked it up and threw it into some dudes backyard. And he had a bunch of spare cars back there. So we didn’t really recognize what the heck it was. It was just so random. Right? You know, it’s like, you just like shake your head.

Well, that’s good.

So, you know what, before we wrap things up, Fred’s any of the things you want to share to the audience out there, you know, like, how do you what do you think about getting in skilled trades? Do you ever have any regrets for you know, getting into this? Or is it been? You know, I know, obviously, we’ve all had challenges in our lives, but, you know, overall, after almost 40 years, I mean, would you do anything different? If so, what would that be?

The only thing I would try to do different is get into the industrial market sooner, you know, I mean, but it’s been a good career for me and my family. You know, I can’t complain my son’s following in my footsteps. I mean, he’s been in the business for he’s knocking on 20 years already. So you know, we we we’ve definitely enjoyed the business. And I like to learn I love learning I mean, well now I’ve been where I’m at for going on nine years but I mean it’s I just like doing stuff differently learning everyday

Yeah, now what why would you have went over into industrial sooner what what’s your what’s driving that?

It’s even though it’s bigger equipment. It seems to be less back. You know, you you can’t lift everything you got to have chain falls or cranes, you know, you not so much relying on your own strength right? Okay.

Yeah, cuz you guys are working on what is it mostly? Ammonia?

Mostly ammonia? Yeah.

Yeah. Well, I’ll tell you what ammonia technicians are man. Technicians in general hard to come by. But there’s a real for industrial purposes, ammonia still still the stuff I mean that you can’t beat that for efficiency and reliability. But, man, it’s like a whole once this generation like you and me take off I don’t know what they’re gonna do.

Yeah, they we have very few people under under 30 working for us. And we really don’t have a whole lot on the 40 working for us. Yeah.

Yeah. Hey guys, just just so you know, to the audience out there. What Fred’s talking about, is when we say ammonia, we’re talking about the type of refrigerant that the equipment that Fred works on is running. So you hear about, you know, all these, you know, 134, a and old rt 22 systems and things like that. Ammonia is almost exclusively used in industrial refrigeration. And as I alluded to a minute ago, Fred, his skill set is quite unique. And it typically if you get into like he was saying, if you get into industrial, you can usually command top dollar, especially if you have good work habits. What does that pretty much sums it up, Fred?

Yep, that’s about it. Yeah.

So tell me about your son. Does he work for Simcoe as well?

Yes, he does. Yeah. Okay. He seems he seemed to follow me when when I’m when I made a movie.

Okay, so is he one of the three guys there in Louisiana? Yes, sir. So that’s cool. Do you guys get to work together very often or what?

We, most of our work, we work by ourselves. But when it’s when it is a two man job we do. We do get to work together on a regular basis. I really, really enjoy that.

Does he do what the old man tells him to do?

We argue a little bit. You Thank

you. So let me ask you this. What do you Well, your son does he? Does he approach things being a different generation? Does he approach things differently than you do?

Well, he, he does. And he all of his career has been in industrial refrigeration. So when he got in, so he’s, he’s actually a better rotating equipment. person than I. Okay. He’s, his his whole career has been in industrial.

Well, yeah. Since birth, probably. Did he? When did he start expressing interest in what you do?

I mean, I used to carry him around. You know, when I did a little bit of side work I did. I carried him around, but a story about him and he was 11 years old. When I come home and X wave was at, he was at the neighbor’s house changing the ceiling thing. I had to say, what do you know, where do you learn how to do that? What are you doing? Oh, just from watching you.

Oh, that’s awesome. That must have made you feel about 20 feet tall.

Oh, yeah.

That’s, that’s great. So did he did he go to college for a while? Or did he just jump right into the trades out of high school like you? Did?

He jump right into the trades? We I was working for a union? Well, the manufacturer and we was union. So he went through the a union apprenticeship program. Okay. And that’s really a good, that’s a good start for somebody. I can tell you, you get some good trainers, and it don’t cost you the only thing you pay for its books. You know, and you get it. You got to go on your own time, but you get to work while you’re doing it. That’s really a good benefit. Yeah,

that’s it now that was in New Orleans there. That’s your local unions were doing that. Yes. Okay. That’s a huge takeaway, because that’s one of the kind of the hallmarks of advantages of skilled trades. And I hear about this all over the United States apprenticeship programs. But even if you get somebody that goes to a community college, a lot of those courses are held at night. And you can actually be working in the air in in the trade that you’re learning and getting paid. Right You don’t have to a lot of times you don’t have to take out a big Student Loan and I, I’ve heard of contractors that will hire two year students and actually reimburse them for their tuition.

Yeah, that’s that’s a that’s a good deal.

So that is it. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I very much look forward to continuing to connect with you. Please don’t hesitate to send me messages on LinkedIn. I’m on there all the time. Or you can reach out to me on my email. I’m at M King at process Tiller academy.com And until next week, when I give you the next installment, I wish you a great week, and I will connect up with you again soon. Take care.

Episode That Support This Topic.

Episode Transcript

So hey guys, this is Martin King with another installment of the skilled trade rescue Podcast. Today I have a unique opportunity, I think, to sit down with a guy who I believe has a pretty amazing story. The series is all about being able to experience other people’s journeys within skilled trades. And this particular gentleman, Brian McIntyre is a just an amazing person, I got a chance to look at his profile. And I think that he has a lot to share. So just a real framework here, Brian is a decorated veteran. And he decided to go into skilled trades, particularly HVAC, which is my favorite right out of the military. And he has taken different skill paths or different paths within the HVAC skill trade. So I want to really share that with the audience. So anyway, with that being said, before we get going, I’m sure you hear this quite a bit. Brian, I want to thank you sincerely for your service. It is not if it weren’t for folks like you, we would not be able to enjoy the freedoms that we have. And I mean that and I really appreciate what you’ve done for this country, man, I really do. So,

welcome. Welcome, Brian. Thank you for having me.

So let’s, let’s get started here, I want to find out and tell your story. Maybe a little bit from the military, what you’re, you know, what you’re okay with sharing, comfortable sharing with us up to what you’re doing now, kind of give us a, you know, the patchwork of how you ended up where you’re where you’re at right now.

So I graduated high school in 2003, which was, you know, I witnessed 911. And funny, I was actually talking to a recruiter during that whole process. So that day, I was leaving high school, going to tech school, and my recruiter met me in the parking lot and said, Are you ready to go? And I said, Absolutely. Well, I’d wait till I graduated. But I did leave that timer, I left early, join the Marine Corps, became a machine gunner went through, did my ideal got injured, decided, you know, I was getting out. And I didn’t know what I was gonna do. But I had a friend that worked for my mom, as a contractor, and he’s like, Hey, man, you get into the Union put you through school. And we’ll get you a job. And you can start out here. So that’s how I got started in the trade. Went through the trade school. And that was a five year long program. We didn’t really think I was going to continue on with education after that. But I found that the Marine Corps had given me some instilled from Pioneer where I just charge through and get things done, no matter how hard they are. I ended up continuing education after that. So I started my career working for a small company, and then got moved on to a larger company a manufacturer but on the on the service side, and it was kind of interesting because the school was more pushing me towards being a plumber than they were want me to be a in the HVAC build. So it was the original company I worked for, and I was like, I don’t want to do that. I like the technical stuff. So I continued on and got licensed and completed and moved on and went to another company and actually ended up having an accident with that company that hurt. Got out of it thought I was gonna completely get out of it. But this still makes you a lot of money, there’s a lot of different opportunities. So I went and got back into school that that I was kind of looking at getting out of it, but got into the business side of it. And from there I’ve taken off and still work in the field every once a while but now more on the money side and helping customers out. So it’s it’s been unique because I’m I do well with talking to customers and explaining everything to them. And when they especially don’t understand and really today, they definitely don’t understand what’s going on with all the technology and new new systems that are coming out. So they can they can get overwhelmed quick and I help them understand what we’re dealing with and how to fix the problems.

So you’re working mainly on the sales side now from what it looks like, like customer lessons, that type of thing.

I am more. I do both. I do the sales and I am the service manager for my service department. Oh wow. Okay.

So you’re overseeing work that’s going on in the field in addition to helping out the customers, and you’re sort of the technical translator for your customers, right? Yep. Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. So what have you seen since 2007? As far as changes in the industry? Like, you know, are the are the opportunities for, you know, HVAC? People in the HVAC skilled trade set? Is it expanding? Is there more opportunities now than there was in 2007? Or, what are you seeing?

Absolutely. There’s, obviously the big push for women to join the field. But it’s not just that it’s a, there’s the control side, the heavy lifting mechanical side, there’s called, there’s pipelaying, VRP, Vav, I mean, you can almost pick what you want to do. Or when I started, it was more or hey, you got to just go and join in your, you don’t really know the Service Calls you’re about to get into or what you’re about to work on. Now, it’s more, you can definitely pick on, I want to stay residential, I want to do commercial only, or industrial, we do at all. You can definitely pick what you want to do. The problem that we have is there is finding people that want to do the work, the schools were heavily involved. But just finding those guys that want to come in, guys and gals that want to come in and actually do the work. That’s yeah.

Yeah, what I what I teased in the opener for this recording was the fact that, you know, you as a, as a military vet, you know, a lot of guys go into en women to they go into the military. And when you get out, you have a pretty good support structure, like, in other words, you have money that you can use to go to college, if you wanted to. And a lot of people do that. And what I find really interesting is that, you know, you you had that channel, you could definitely go that way. And it sounds like you did some of that. But you’ve you’ve gravitated towards more in the field more, you know, work with your hands work with customers, that kind of thing. And I think that’s that’s kind of unique, that that, you know, there’s a there’s an awakening happening in the in the country now that a lot of people are starting to recognize the fact that, you know, they may college may not be for them. So we’re trying to what I’m trying to do with the show, is to put it out there and say, you know, skilled trades is not just the if everything else doesn’t work out, you know, you can go ahead and be a plumber or HVAC tech. It’s a real thing. I mean, you can do real well, in skilled trades, we think about that.

Absolutely. The only thing is, especially now that it’s getting more, the HVAC side is getting more and more technical. So you, um, you really got to know what you’re doing with a computer. It wasn’t that way. When I started, you didn’t have to have a laptop. But I mean, almost everything we go to laptops required. Sometimes it makes it easier, but there are definitely times it can be extremely difficult. But these kids, these younger kids, they’re especially my son who’s 14 knows how to work her computer better. And it was great. It was just great. But yeah, just make getting them to understand and that’s been a lot of my pitch when I go to schools was talking to these kids that yeah, you can go and do your college or whatever. But the skilled trades, you can just get out there. You don’t have to spend that money, go into college, go to trade school, get get your degree and take off this field will be making money a lot quicker than you can with trying to go get a job.

Hey, guys, quick announcement, if you have not stopped into our website, at skill, trade rescue calm, please do that. On the homepage. Here, you will see that we have the Join the movement email list. If you haven’t signed up, please consider doing that we have some amazing guests lined up for the podcast, I’m going to be getting the stories out of successful technicians and business owners in skilled trades. These are not just HVAC people there’s going to people be from across the skilled trade spectrum. And my hope is that I’m going to be able to draw out of these people the things that have worked in their careers amazingly well. And the things that if they had a chance to talk to their younger self, what they would tell them not to do. So I want to share all that stuff with you. And if you sign up, you’re going to be the first to know when we drop those new podcast episodes. Also coming soon. We have the BST workshop. It’s a five day automated email Workshop. However, you’re going to give content to us through that workshop, you’re going to get one on one feedback from our structures, instructors, and we’re looking to better your career. I’ve been teaching the BST process for many, many years, about two decades one on one, and I’m going to be trying to do that to the masses through this workshop. It’s totally free. All you got to do sign up. As soon as you do that, you’ll get alerts on your email. As soon as these new podcasts come in, as well as the BST workshops. Okay, check it out, I will put a link to the website on the show notes for this episode today. So check it out. Just so you’re working as a service manager. So you kind of you’re you’re, you’re right in the middle of it. So you’ve got older, older techs, younger techs, what are some of the what are some of the mindset challenges that you have with with technicians that that work with you? I mean, what are some of the things that you’re working with them to improve in order to, to speed up their trajectory? What are some key things that maybe a working technician now that seems like man, I’m just not moving up quick enough? Like, what are some of the the things that use a service manager are looking for in technicians in general, new ones or older ones.

So I have it for I have it all over the place, I’ve got older guys, a couple of them probably should go ahead and retire, they, they just don’t want to. I’ve got new guys, and they’re real bright. And on the same side of the money, guys, I’ve got a couple that are you know, they’re gonna take off and just go with it. And they love learning. And then I’ve got guys that bright, but they don’t, they don’t really show the initiative of doing it, you’re like you have to push them. So I’ve got both ends. And I think what really motivates him is honestly the finger tacks being willing to teach, and not willing to teach, but also willing to look at the way that those younger guys look at things and learn from it as well. Right? I spend a lot of my day, my guys get in trouble, hey, I take off out there we go help them. I get in trouble, too. I call him a senior guys are like, Hey, can we look at this or talk about it. And we work it out as a team. But that’s the main thing is to know that we’re not going to leave you stranded by yourself. You’ve got support here everywhere. And that someone’s always going to be available to either answer the phone or show up on your job with you and help you out. And we’re going to teach you so that next time, you’re more prepared, or you’ve already seen this and you can it’s easy for people, you know, sometimes we show up on jobs, and they’re like, how did you figure that out so fast? Well, we just have a lot of experience, we’ve seen it.

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, it’s, I guess, the mindset that I used to look for, is, you know, I used to say this all the time, you give me somebody who doesn’t know a lot that has the drive to learn, and you know, really the right attitude, I can make him into a great tack. But on the flip side of it, on the flip side of it, if you got somebody that’s just smart as a whip, I mean, they’re just, you know, intellectually just sharp. But they just don’t have that, that drive to learn and strive and, you know, they may make it up to a certain level of a technician, but they’ll plateau out, you know, because they’re there say, Oh, that’s good enough for me, and they don’t know, keep rolling up, you know?

Right? Yeah, that’s been the difficult part. I’ve got a few guys right now. They’re real smart, but they just don’t, they seem comfortable where they are. And I’m trying to, maybe that might be a little bit of fear is you got to step outside of that. You’re going to learn and grow from it. That’s been, I’ve made plenty of mistakes. Try to tell the guys look, don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s gonna happen. And you’re going to learn.

So when you first started in the trades, working in HVAC back in 2007, Brian, what are some of the things that you struggled with? I want to I want to hear about those things, if there was anything that you struggled with professionally, and maybe you know how you applied your military background or what you did to deal with those things that you challenged with what were some of those things?

Now my main struggle was being confident and reading, not being confident and understanding what I was seeing was my multimeter troubleshooting. So I would second guess myself all the time. And I had to learn quickly. You what I what I knew my knowledge, I had plenty of knowledge. I also had plenty of support that I just had had to trust my gut and go with what I was seeing and be willing to say, Yep, this is it and go ahead and make the repair. Well, it took me a while to be, you know, especially with the amount of money, we’re talking on components. And I didn’t want to make those calls, I don’t want to be like, I’m sorry, this is gonna cost you this much, and felt bad. Well, now I’ve understood that, hey, you’re actually there, they called you for a reason you’re there for a reason. They want you to fix it. So that was what I struggled with was I struggled so bad that I would go home and make my own trainers in the garage Lahoma on time, so I look for that. For people that want to not only understand that, hey, this isn’t just a job, it’s a career and something you’re going to invest in, is go home and do the same thing and continue your education. Figure out what weakness push through. And that’s what the Marine Corps taught me was your only as good as your weakest link. So mine was troubleshooting at first and

yeah, so you get somebody? Where are you finding all your technicians? Now? What the newbies that you’re bringing in? Where are they coming from?

Like specific schools are doing what you’re asking?

Yeah, yeah. Like, where do you like if you need to hire a new technician to bring them up? Were you finding those new technicians, the apprentices if you will?

Well, so we we are currently in heavily involved with people all the tech and post show up Mogi highly recommend getting kids from their best thing about OSHA, not sorry, stop tech, and they just started a plumbing division. So they’re, they’re working on building out plumbers. And so are we, we have our construction site that has plenty of owners. But we need service partners, right? That’s why it’s so difficult to find, but they are. So it’s been my interest is that we’re just going to get a young pup and an older guy, and we’re going to take off from there. So that’s, that’s why we do what we do. We go to the school, and we tell them what we needed. And they’ve been really good about, hey, we’re gonna build a whole new plumbing lab and go with it.

Yeah. Yeah. And then once they once you bring him in, is that is that what you do? I think I’m hearing you say you, you shadow them with a more senior tech for for a while. How long is your apprenticeship program? Typically,

I, I like to give them around two years to I mean, I think especially if I can, if I can get them on where they’re not just doing, you know, at first, their first six months or a year, they’re just they’re basically carrying the tool bag and visually learning them. I mean, they do work, but it’s their manual labor. The second year is where I want to see them take over, I want to see them actually run the job. And in the senior Tech’s, basically, they’re just stopping anything from going wrong. And same with me, I want to see them come to me and say, Hey, this is you know, I’ve watched how you do it. Now I want to just take over and do it the same way or here, I’ve got some actually better ideas, and I’ll sit down and listen to it. That’s, that’s what we look for.

Hey, guys, I have an exciting announcement, we just recently made some updates to our three most popular online courses at process Tiller Academy comm if you’re a technician, that’s looking to improve your skills a little bit and maybe get some specialized training to be of more value to your customers and your employer. Or if you are an employer, a contractor that is looking to augment your existing in house training with online training that can be accessible from any device, this is a really great opportunity. Just go to process chiller, academy.com just scroll down on the homepage, and you will see the course area. If you go into the course page, you will see that we have currently for limited time, we have a promo code of chiller Pro that will save you 25% on any one of these courses. So I hope you check it out. And I’m looking forward to seeing you in class. In private, yeah. So from a new hire that doesn’t know anything, you your goal is to turn them out where they’re actually generating some revenue within about two years. Yep. Okay. Okay. That’s, that’s fantastic. Um, and how often so let’s say you get somebody that is really improving quickly. Are you in are you increasing their their pay package, you know, used to be in the old days, when you know that there wasn’t as big of a supply and demand problem with the skilled trade labor. You know, we would tell them, Okay, you know, you get a review on this, this timeline. And then you know, Even if you’re improving, really well, we this is our schedule, this is how we do it. It seems the trend now is as a, as a technician is improving. They’ll they’ll ratchet up the compensation and the opportunities, the type of things they get to work on as quickly as they possibly can, because there’s so much of a demand now is that, are you seeing that same thing?

Yeah. We don’t really go off of a schedule, you’re off more performance. And we, it’s used as an incentive that you can take jumps, especially here and with me is that if you know, I give you courses to take, and you go and complete them on your own time, or whether we’re actually paying for you to go attend the course. Once that’s done, and then I see that you’ve actually applied yourself or continued learning on your own, you can jump quick into some decent money. And we’re not the problem is dealing with young kids and make having them understand that you’re going to start out lower than what you know, I guess Walmart or Target are currently trying to hire. But you’re gonna pass that real fast. And we’re, you’re getting a career? Not, you know, we’re not just doing the same thing every day. You’re not I mean, there’s a lot of opportunity. But it’s again, it’s all really left out fast, they want to do it.

So what’s your plans? Brian? So you’ve been at this company now for a while you’re yours, the service manager, you’re the the sales person, you know, you’re you’re translating between the technical stuff that’s going on in the field and trying to explain it as best you can to the customers on why they gotta spend money to get this thing running again, what what’s your plan? I mean, where do you see going in the next, you know, five or 10 years and in HVAC trade?

Well, I’m hoping that in the next five years, I’ve completely rebuilt this service department. And there’s more than just me and the other guy that does the residential side doing it, we’re we’re trying to build a whole crew to wear this. I mean, it almost works on itself. I know that’s impossible that, you know, technically we’re in three hats right now, I’d like to only do one. Eventually, I would like to get there. And then I’m kind of thinking that once that happens, if I get the opportunity, I’d like to go work on the construction side for a while. I’m the project manager.

Very cool. Very cool. So what what advice would you give just if you had a chance to talk to one of these newbies? And you were their their personal coach? What? What advice would you give to somebody, let’s say we got a individual that is, you know, has been told to go to college, almost from birth. And they realize, wow, you know, college really isn’t for me. And they’ve done some research and they decide they want to be an HVAC tech or any other still trade doesn’t really matter. What advice would you give that person or, you know, another way to ask would be, you know, what would you say to your younger self, about, you know, about the the career track and skilled trades,

would just say that the skilled trades is going to offer a lot of skills for trade track is going to offer up a lot more opportunities than just whether you want to be an HVAC tech plumber pipe fitter. There’s more there. I mean, it looks, it looks like oh, you got to pick one field? Well, yeah, you need to pick one and get good at it. But it’s going to open doors that you didn’t think were possible. Just focus on getting good at investing in yourself, and getting good in taking care of ordering all your tools getting, you know, once you once you understand that, the sky’s the limit if you want to go into work for yourself or go to work for a company, whatever you want to do, and you can make as much money as you want to make.

Yeah, for sure. Very good. Well, gosh, any any things you’d like to maybe share with veterans that are just getting out? You know, like, career paths for them any anything you’d like to share to my audience? I know I have a lot of military people both still in and and just getting out what what advice would you give them as far as a career path when when they get out?

I just always keep your ears open to your eyes. I mean, just look at the skill train. For sure. Then you can use your GI Bill. But you can also the best part about this. This is Opportunity is you can work and go to school and use your GI Bill. So you’re gonna, you know, just take a leap over just go into college. It’s been, you know, I mean, I’m not saying that that’s that’s for some people and I didn’t say you guys go you do 20 hours a semester and get a degree but the skilled trades is in high demand, I can’t tell you how work on our we do not take our or hiring sign down basically. Right? I mean, we were all in a lot of fun as mice side is a lot of people approached me to be a plumber and I didn’t listen. Well. Yes, I really enjoy the HVAC side. But to be honest, the plumbing field even though it sounds dirty, you make a lot more money. But jobs are pretty sweet.

Yeah. Interesting. Very, very interesting. Yeah, one of the challenges nowadays, what a lot of people, of course, the media doesn’t talk about it, is that you know, you get a individual that’s getting out of out of high school now. And, you know, let’s say the parents are middle class are not wealthy, and they, they want to put their, their child through college. And what they’re finding out is the college experience is much different now than it than it was before when they went through and not that I’m, you know, negative on college, I’m just trying to be, you know, realistic about it. And these, these, these kids, they go in there. And they’re, they are working, maybe some of them while they’re in college, but they’re not. They’re not making much. And they’re, you know, they’re constantly balancing work with their their school life. But at the end of the of their courses, whether it be for five, six years to get their degree, either they or their parents have racked up a huge debt, you know, and that’s the challenge that they’re faced, because the cost of college is increased weigh more than the cost of living, right. So the, the, these individuals are really struggling with that. And I think which you touched on a real important thing that if you go into skilled trades, and you get good at it, you can always go back to college, unfortunately, very few people do. I did, but it was just difficult. It’s difficult. But you know, if you go into an apprenticeship program or something like that, you’re you’re making great money you’re getting, you’re already starting your trajectory to move up. And you’re not racking up a lot of debt. Because a lot of times the employers are so hard up for good labor, they’ll pay for a lot of it, you know, it’s just, it’s just kind of a no brainer. If if you’re not going to be a doctor or a lawyer, you know, something like that, that absolutely 100% requires a college degree.

Yeah, absolutely. They I would, I would definitely encourage, especially the, if you really sat down and looked at what you’re going to pay for getting a four year degree compared to what you’re going to spend going through whether it’s to the five year apprenticeship, you’re going to rack up debt, a lot of debt that you’re going to be paying for for quite a long time. Or you can go into the skilled trades, get paid to do it and you’re you’re you’re low come out of there with me might have some debt, but you’re gonna it’s more income, and then your incomes going to just continue to grow. You’re going to take off further than that kid that went to college and partied or whatever, may have not got a degree. It was me. I before I took off to the Marine Corps, I did make that mistake. And luckily I quickly realized what I was doing.

So that is it. I hope you enjoyed this episode. I very much look forward to continuing to connect with you. Please don’t hesitate to send me messages on LinkedIn. I’m on there all the time. Or you can reach out to me on my email. I’m at M King at process tour academy.com And until next week, when I give you the next installment I wish you a great week, and I will connect up with you again soon. Take care.